To celebrate International Literacy Day, UNESCO helped the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sport (MoEYS) held a celebration in Preah Vihear under the national theme, ‘Literacy is the Foundation of Entrepreneurship and Economics’.
The topic of the event on September 8 sat in line with the international theme, ‘Promoting Literacy for a World in Transition: Building the Foundation for Sustainable and Peaceful Societies’.
More than 1,600 people attended the event, which was presided over by the Secretary of State at the MoEYS and included development partners, NGO partners, and representatives from national and subnational levels of government.
Literacy plays an “important and indispensable” role in Cambodia in fostering the growth of the nation and its people, according to Nos Sles, Secretary of State of MoEYS.
“Literacy is the foundation of knowledge. Literacy is the foundation of education. Literacy is the basis of lifelong learning. Literacy is the key to development and literacy contributes to reducing poverty,” he said.
The message emphasized how literacy-related information and abilities, which include both soft and hard skills, enable people to become competent, inventive, and creative, promoting entrepreneurship, economic growth, and positively influencing families and society.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is halfway through this year and serves as a crucial reminder to evaluate progress and make sure that no one is left behind.
Nos Sles said for those hailing from lower socioeconomic backgrounds and those who are disadvantaged, such as weaker and out-of-school youth, factory workers and indigenous youth, are in need of maintaining support for and dedication to literacy initiatives to foster productive growth and sustainable development.
Even though adult literacy rates in Cambodia have increased significantly, there must be ongoing support and coordinated efforts to maintain the momentum.
On International Literacy Day, Sardar Umar Alam, UNESCO Representative to Cambodia, underlined the importance for Cambodia to be literate and digital-ready.
Three recommendations were highlighted: investing in digital infrastructure and comprehensive digital skills training programmes; cultivating a culture of lifelong learning by encouraging especially youth to continuously upgrade their skills to keep pace with changes in the economy and society; and strengthening collaborations with government agencies, educational institutions and the private sector to improve the quality of education.
“In Cambodia’s Vision 2050, human resource development continues to play a pivotal role in the national development agenda of Cambodia,” stated a press release from UNESCO.
While the first Strategic Pentagon in the new Pentagonal Strategy, human resource development places literacy and education at the core of transforming Cambodia.
Reading, writing and math skills are no longer the only components of literacy in today's quick-changing, information-savvy and more digital world. Understanding, interpreting, communicating and creating are all parts of a dynamic continuum that are constantly changing.
MoEYS has received assistance from UNESCO since 2016 as it implements a novel initiative for workplace literacy. The Factory Literacy Programme (FLP-SkillsFuture) offers a customized literacy program through collaborations with businesses in the apparel, footwear, and travel goods industries to help garment factory workers develop their basic functional reading abilities and life skills.
A total of 3,135 students, of which 96 percent are women, have benefitted from the program since its launch.
Additionally, the Basic Education Equivalency Programme (BEEP) has been put into place by the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training (MLVT), MoEYS and UNESCO to offer out-of-school youth flexible online alternatives to finish their basic education, which is comparable to Grade 9.
The economy of Cambodia has seen swift and substantial changes over the last 10 years. The urgent need to empower people to interact with information and technology, adapt to the shifting economic structure, and develop resilience in the face of new problems like disinformation, digital vulnerability, and climate change is prompted by new trends like digitalization and artificial intelligence.
The new difficulties confirm literacy as a fundamental ability that allows people to read and write, as well as interpret and analyze data and recognize opportunities. Strengthening literacy, skill development, and opportunities for lifelong learning through formal, non-formal, and informal institutions requires concerted joint efforts from the government and other stakeholders, including the private sector. These efforts should build on the gains previously made in Cambodia.